Thursday, June 11, 2009

Burma: Suu Kyi says trial 'political'

(Bangkok Post-AFP) -Burma pro-democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi believes the junta's charges against her are "politically motivated", her lawyer has said, as he lodged an appeal over a witness ban at her trial.

The opposition leader met with her legal team in prison on Wednesday to discuss her defence against charges that she broke the rules of her house arrest when an American man swam to her lakeside property in May.

"Daw Aung San Suu Kyi said yesterday when we met that the trial is politically motivated," Nyan Win, one of her three lawyers and the spokesman for her National League for Democracy (NLD), told AFP.

The 63-year-old Nobel laureate faces five years in jail if convicted, which would keep her locked up far beyond national polls scheduled to be held next year.

Critics have dismissed the planned elections as a sham designed to entrench the military's hold on power as Aung San Suu Kyi is barred from standing.

Her legal team submitted a high court application on Thursday seeking an appeal to allow two banned defence witnesses to be heard at her trial.

"The high court will hold a hearing for admission on the coming 17th (June)," Nyan Win said, adding that if the court decided to admit the complaint, it would then schedule a further date for a formal appeal hearing.

A lower court on Tuesday overturned a ban on her having a second defence witness to testify -- one legal expert has already given evidence -- but a ban on two other witnesses was upheld.

The two barred witnesses are Win Tin, a dissident journalist who was Burma's longest serving prisoner until his release in September, and Tin Oo, the detained deputy leader of the NLD.

Aung San Suu Kyi is dissatisfied that her lakeside home is still guarded by authorities despite her house arrest's having officially ended in May, Nyan Win said.

The democracy leader is currently held in Rangoon's notorious Insein prison and said friends had been denied access to her residence, despite the fact that police told her in May that her house arrest was over.

"She is not very satisfied," said Nyan Win.

"She said that her house arrest ended on May 26, but her friends are not allowed to go into her house for cleaning. Security staff said they are still waiting for permission from their superiors," he told AFP.

Aung San Suu Kyi has spent 13 of the last 19 years in detention since Burma's military junta refused to recognise the NLD's landslide victory in the country's last elections, in 1990.

She has spent most of that time in virtual isolation at her house, where the regime has allowed her to receive visits from only a handful of people, including her doctors and lawyers.

The trial, which has drawn a storm of international protest, is due to resume for a procedural hearing on Friday.

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